While the president's town hall meeting before a joint session of Congress last night was eloquent, compromising and signaled the abandonment of the public option, let's not lose focus on the reality of what this president and Congress still face. In order to create bipartisan healthcare reform, it is instructive to examine the issues that are difficult or impossible to reach a consensus on and areas where there may be common ground between the two views.
President Barack Obama's disapproval ratings were rising at an alarmingly (to Democrats) rapid pace back in July when he was very visible and very vocal in his attempts to push an unpopular healthcare reform bill down our collective throat. Most analysts thought those numbers might smooth out when Obama "disappeared" for a while during the August recess. But the approval numbers sank even further as the disapprovals kept inching upwards.
It used to be tradition in 19th century American saloons for barkeepers to give a free lunch to any patron who bought a drink.
But, of course, the lunch wasn’t free because you had to buy a drink to get it. Saloon owners knew that if they could get folks in the door with free food, they could keep them there with expensive booze.
Milton Friedman wrote a whole book called, There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, where he laid out, in economic terms, how expensive “free” can be.
At first glance, the strongest argument advanced by opponents of universal healthcare is the need to protect personal freedom.
Part of this has to do with Americans' preference for free markets. When we shop, we like to have plenty of choice, whether the commodity is breakfast cereal, automobiles or healthcare. We're afraid that, if we adopt universal healthcare, our healthcare choices will be restricted.
The left originally only cared about a single-payer plan, but after they came to the bitter conclusion that single-payer was not gonna happen, they turned to the public option as their last best chance to get real reform.
Sure, there's a chance President Obama comes out next week and wages a useless fight for the public option that won't pass the Senate, but he always seemed more of a pragmatic type to me.
But will he be specific? And will he admit the inevitable — that a public plan won't pass the U.S. Senate, not because of Republicans but because it isn't supported there by members of his own party?
Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President,
Thank you for inviting me to address this joint session of Congress.
I hope you all had a nice August break. I know I did. I had a chance to visit some great Americans out west, my kids got a chance to see Yellowstone, I got a chance to do some fishing and get some golf in at the Vineyard.
Sad about our colleague Ted Kennedy. He was a great American, and of course, without him, I wouldn’t be standing here today.
But I am pretty refreshed from my summer vacation, and now I am ready to start working on healthcare reform.
I know some of you had a chance to talk to the American people about our plan.
Or should I say your plan.
Why I find this article fascinating is because she talks about how her father was a close friend of the Kennedys, and he sailed with Ted Kennedy all the time.
I wish I could have sailed with Ted Kennedy. I wish I could sail with anybody, but I don’t have the money. And that is why I get a kick out of this article.